By Mafugi Ceesay
Outspoken lawyer Ibrahim Jallow has threatened to sue the Gambia government and the IEC for using attestation forms to “grant citizenship to non-Gambians”.
Speculation regarding foreign interference has been ubiquitous since the opening of the country’s electoral cycle for the December polls.
Speaking in a Standard exclusive yesterday at his Chambers along Kairaba Avenue, Mr Jallow said there is no clause in the constitution mandating a village head or alkalo to issue citizenship to any person, “whosoever”, through a declaration of an attestation form prepared by the IEC.
He stressed that the process of giving voter’s card to people whose citizenship status cannot be confirmed by any other means is not only a “nagging assault” on our democratic process and extant laws of The Gambia, but also equivalent to unlawfully granting citizenship to people through a system that appeared to be flawed.
He said the participation of even a single non-Gambian can render a whole electoral process null and void.
“This has been done in other Commonwealth countries and The Gambia will not be an exception,” Lawyer Jallow warned.
He explained that a citizenship obtained through a voter registration process is not envisaged in the 1997 constitution.
“Any person, whosoever, unlawfully votes in any election in The Gambia, and not being a constitutional citizen in accordance with the 1997 constitution of The Gambia, should be prosecuted under the relevant laws of The Gambia. For any election to be fair, the participants [voters] in that election process should be legally eligible to vote in the election in the manner prescribed by law, anything done contrary is unlawful, illegal and therefore null and void,” the lawyer said.
Speaking further, he said the country must come to the “emphatic conclusion” that issuing voter cards to non-citizens of The Gambia for the purposes of voting in an election is a gross violation of the constitution and other laws of The Gambia.
“…And it is capable of making the whole election legal framework questionable. The Gambian people were informed and promised that henceforth, all electoral processes should be lawful and legal including the voter registration process. Therefore, this is a serious matter that needs to be addressed, otherwise, any election is challengeable and will be challenged in a competent court of law, at the right time.”
Lawyer Jallow reiterated that granting voter cards to people who otherwise are not eligible to vote in Gambian elections could be dangerous to national security.
He called it “a plot to disenfranchise the Gambian people” and added that “it is worrisome that this issue is not thought of and or is completely ignored by our lawmakers and relevant government institutions, and non-governmental organisations and CSOs. I [as Gambian citizen and legal practitioner] also demand for an immediate setting up of a process to cancel all voter cards issued through attestation forms by the IEC and the sanctioning and prosecution of all such individuals who illegally and unlawfully obtained voter registration in The Gambia”